Style 101: What Is a Lapel Pin and How Should You Wear One?

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There are few constants in the world of fashion, whether it’s for men or women. One consistent, recurring theme is that trends of the past repeat themselves. Ascots and cravats went from the height of fashion to a faux pas to a niche trend. Bow ties went from cheesy middle school attire to fun-filled personality statements in corporate America.

Lapel pins have undergone a similar renaissance in men’s formalwear over the past few seasons. What is a lapel pin? How can you wear one properly and capture this historical style trend? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Lapel Pin?

Let’s start out with the most basic and obvious question: What is a lapel pin?

As the name would suggest, a lapel pin is, well, a pin that goes on the lapel of your jacket. If you’re not sure where the lapels of your jacket are located, they’re the folds below the collar on either side of the jacket opening. This makes them prime real estate for a mens’ lapel pin, which can be a badge of affiliation or a floral pin for a wedding.

Common Types of Lapel Pins

There are many different types of lapel pins available, made in a variety of materials for a variety of purposes. However, the most common types by far are:

Long-Stem Pins

Long-stem lapel pins are a more modern invention, at home with contemporary fashion. These lapel pins come in a wide range of styles, which makes them great all-rounders for any event. The most popular designs for long-stem pins include metallic forms of flowers, animals, and feathers, all appended to the lapel by a long-stem pin.

Boutonnieres

Boutonnieres are the most formal, most fancy of the bunch. These pins get crafted from and centered around flowers, real or artificial. The most high-end fabric boutonnieres are crafted with silk. Since they’re so formal, you won’t often see them outside of weddings, black-tie events, and funerals.

Badges or Mini-Pins

Badges and mini-pins are rather like cufflinks in that the designs chosen can reveal a lot about a person. These small pins can be associated with a team or cause, contain an important symbol, or have a cool design that you like. They’re a great way to add a little personal flair to your outfit without attracting too much attention.

Where Do You Wear a Lapel Pin?

The most obvious answer to this question is, “On the lapel, of course.” However, that’s far from the only location where you can place your lapel pin once you have it. While fashion rules are made to be broken, there are some guidelines for placing your pin correctly. The “rules” for the placement of your cool lapel pins are as follows:

If Worn on the Lapel, It Must Be on the Left

If you do opt for the more traditional lapel placement, you must wear your lapel pin on the left lapel. Under ideal circumstances, you’d place it between your pocket square and your collar. In fact, many suits have a small buttonhole for this exact purpose!

If your suit does not have a built-in hole for a lapel pin, worry not. You can stick the pin straight through the lapel. Just be careful not to fray or snag the jacket’s material. 

Wearing a Lapel Pin on a Tie

So, what happens if the weather proves too unseasonable for a jacket, but you have to wear a tie? No worries: You can stick your lapel pin to your tie instead. In this situation, the typical placement for the lapel pin is towards the center of the tie.

Wearing a Lapel Pin on a Formal Shirt

What if you have some cool lapel pins you want to show off, but don’t have a jacket or tie to wear to the event? If the shirt you’re wearing is a dress shirt, you can get away with appending your lapel pin right above your heart. This is around where the lapel would fall if you were to wear a jacket, making it the perfect placement.

Wearing a Lapel Pin on a Coat

If you want to showcase your lapel pin, you’ll want to pin it to your coat. For business casual and everyday wear, using badges as lapel pins is a common practice. While most high-quality, formal outerwear jackets will have a dedicated lapel buttonhole, you don’t need one to wear your lapel pins proudly. You can take these badges and pin them to your outerwear coat’s collar to give it that extra sense of personal flair.

What Lapel Pin Should I Wear?

Now that you understand where you should place your lapel pin, you might wonder what sort of pins you should wear. Let’s review some of the most common lapel pin varieties and where they’re most appropriate.

  • Cause Badges: These are important if you wish to announce yourself as an ally to a cause, as they’re subtle enough not to draw undue attention, but offer a hint of your beliefs to the trained eye
  • Metallic Pins: The same rules for metallic jewelry apply to metallic lapel pins, so try to ensure that all the metals you’re wearing (e.g. watch, cufflinks, etc) match
  • Bright or Colorful Pins: These pins work best on a neutral backdrop or as a contrast color to your jacket or shirt
  • Floral or Pastel Pins: Since these are more subtle and understated, they tend to harmonize with whatever other accessories you may have on

One thing to keep in mind: People should look towards your face, not your lapels. So, make sure that you aren’t drawing undue attention to your chest with a gaudy lapel pin!

Putting a “Pin” in What You’ve Learned

So, what is a lapel pin? A lapel pin is a personal accessory associated with men’s fashion that is typically worn on the lapels of a suit jacket. Lapel pins can be worn to a wide variety of events and cater to many different style preferences. All you need to do is find what pins work best for you.

If you found this article about the lapel pin informative and would like to read more fashion-forward tips, check out our blog daily for more content like this!